Kommersant has published more about the incident involving SPS candidate Nukha Nukhov in Dagestan. Here are some additional details from the story. As a result of the fight between Nukhov and Mohammed Aliev on 11 March, 1700 SPS votes were annulled from the election without a quorum of regional election officials but by United Russia fiat.
Fast forward to now. Four of Aliev’s brothers–Bahamed, Nabrihulla, Ali, and Mukhtar–are all standing trial for the deaths of two of Nukhov’s comrades. Mohammed Aliev was not included in the indictment. The trial of the four is what prompted Nukhov to come out of hiding and return to Dagestan. But, unfortunately for him, he was arrested on his way. According to a representative from SPS, Nukhov was arrested in a search which was prompted by a complaint by one of Aliev’s security guards. The latter claims that Nukhov wounded him in the March brawl. That was what reason prosecutors gave for slapping him with charges of “hooliganism, causing bodily injury, and possession of weapons.” Soon there after hundreds of Nukhov’s comrades rallied for his immediate release in the town square.
The local MVD denied that Nukhov arrest was politically motivated, and even local SPS leader, Iurii Gladkov was “careful in his comments.” He too denied that the arrest was connected with Nukhov’s political activities.
Other local parties disagree. For example, there’s the mysterious murder of local Yabloko leader Farid Babev. LDPR candidate Hadzhimurad Omarov says that he’s received “pressure” to drop out the elections. Just Russia candidate Abdulhamid Emirhamzaev also claims that his comrades and family members have been threatened by “security forces.” Only the local KPRF leader, Murzadin Avezov, says not a single member of his has been touched. But he added, “The Party of Power has administrative resources which render a competitive fight null and void.”
Such is the context that Duma elections will take place in Dagestan.
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By Sean — 9 years ago
The barrage of mass protest fired in Russia’s far east ten days ago echoed with a whimper as opponents of the import car tax hike staged actions across Russia. Today’s protests lacked the manpower of the previous ones, and in Vladivostok, the epicenter of the movement, OMON easily dispersed a crowd of around a 500 people. Police detained about 30 100 people among them included protesters, onlookers, journalists, and broadcast footage by REN-TV’s Valentina Troshina. Here’s a BBC video of the zachistka.
The columns of cars which were so successful in paralyzing Vladivostok ten days go also had limited success. One column of around 40 cars were able to make it to the center of town where the honked their horns. Another column of about 30 cars jammed Magnitagorsk street, while a third of about 30 cars waved flags as they circled the town center. No mass traffic disruption seemed to materialize.
In addition to Vladivostok, sparsely attended protests occurred throughout the country. Actions in South Sakhalin, Barnaul, Blagoveshchensk, Tomsk, Kemerovo, and Khabarovsk were without incident. Police reported that about 25 people (another source says 150) gathered in legal protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg, a number that was completely overshadowed by the 1,500 police and 600 GUVD officers mobilized to contain the actions. About 300 people gathered on Lenin Square in Novosibirsk without incident.
The Vladivostok protests were called hastily, poorly organized and mired in confusion. According to RIA Novosti, the call for today’s protests came from car enthusiast websites. Auto organizations said that they never called for a protest and weren’t going to participate in it. In fact, Dmitrii Penyaz, the leader of the Society for the Defense of Drivers and provincial Duma rep, urged his supporters to not participate in Sunday’s illegal action claiming that they were the work of opportunists. “Now we clearly see the jobbery of our problem among you–unknown provocateurs encourage mass disorder for the purpose of not solving our painful problems, but for the destabilization of the situation in the region.”
It does appear that opposition parties of all stripes are jumping on the tax protest bandwagon. For example, in Kaliningrad, the local branches of the KPRF, Patriots of Russia, the Left Front, and the National Bolsheviks used the car protests to agitate against corruption, high fuel costs, and public services. Most of the protesters, however, carried signs and slogans about the car tax. On Friday, the newly constituted “opposition” force, Solidarity, gave their support to the car tax protesters. In a statement published in Ezhednevnyi zhurnal, they said the tax hike was Putin’s effort to “protect oligarchs close to him, the owners of automakers S. Chemezov (AvtoVaz) and O. Deripaska (AvtoGaz). Such actions have no use except to raise the price of cars and preserve the remaining Russian auto industry. In fact, in choosing between the 20 million motorists and the oligarchs, Putin chose the latter.” The statement went on to call for officials to drive domestic made cars.
To Solidarity’s and other Russian liberals’ chagrin, the domestic upheaval they’ve all been wishing and waiting for didn’t happen. And if recent polls are any indication, they won’t happen anytime soon. Plus if the nightmare scenarios being peddled in relation to the proposed changes to the treason law have any validity, the Kremlin won’t let it happen anyway.
One possible reason for Sunday’s low turnout is that Putin made a preemptive strike. Putin’s move: economic nationalism to feed protestors’ economism. First, he called on the social sector, police and rescue services to buy domestic cars, saying the government would allocate $450 million to fund. He encouraged state owned companies and large private companies to do the same. In addition, Russia’s state investment bank is considering giving Russia’s “Big Three” a total of $616 million in loans to help prop up the industry. Lastly, Putin suggested that next year the government would begin to subsidize loans for individuals to buy domestic cars under $12,500 or less. Whether this will change Russians’ preference for foreign cars is unknown, and probably unlikely.
This is all nice, but wholly ineffective in the long term. Especially since Russia is now intimately tied to global capitalism. The current economic crisis has shown that while capital remains uneven, it shockwaves bat all nation’s shores. Remember VVP, as Marx famously wrote, capital batters all “Chinese walls.” You might as well recognize that Russia’s walls are in the dead center of capital’s cannonade.Post Views: 386
By Sean — 11 years ago
Here’s something to chew on. Nicolai Petro asks in his column “Why Russian Liberals Lose“:
“Why have Russia’s self-proclaimed “liberals” done so badly at attracting popular support?” A few reasons actually. First, he states that liberals like Vladimir Ryzhkov, Irina Khakamada, Grigory Yavinsky, Mikhail Kasyanov and Boris Nemtsov’s initial embrace of figures like Eduard Limonov and Garry Kasparov have caused more harm than good. The fact that most of them, except for Ryzhkov and Nemtsov, have dumped Other Russia, the fact that they were once wedded to them is a hard thing to shake.
Second, the problem isn’t that the liberals can’t get its message to the public. Petro claims that a quarter of Russians have access to the internet, each of the eleven parties on the ballot got “three hours of prime national television time,” and that Yabloko has a 97 percent name recognition rate. In his view, this is enough to circumvent “censorship.” Of course, I can’t help wonder how the three hours of TV time compares to Putin’s airtime and if 97 percent of Russians do recognize Yabloko, how often is it proceeded or followed by grammatically applicable variants of “idiots” or “traitors” I buy this reason less. If anything, our times tell us that media matters.
But no Petro says that the lack of fanfare for Russian liberalism boils down to the political winds. And given how they’re blowing, Yabloko’s and SPS’s sails are either at half-mast or full of holes. Basically, he writes, “the problem is with the messengers, who have managed to alienate their natural constituency – Russia’s growing middle class.”
Then he presents a political choice:
What you would do if faced with the following choice:
One, a political movement that unites a former chess champion whose family resides overseas, a former prime minister popularly nicknamed “Misha 2 percent” because of alleged kickbacks for authorizing government-backed loans to private firms, and an ex-punk rocker released from prison a few years ago who vows to restore the Russian empire by any means necessary.
Two, the party of Vladimir Putin, which has pledged to continue the policies that have increased average salaries from $81 a month to $550 a month, which has dramatically increased social spending and reduced the poverty level from 27 percent to 15 percent.
Um, option #2, please.Post Views: 458
By Sean — 6 years ago
Stephen Kotkin, Professor of History at Princeton University, reviewed five recent books on Putin in the 2 March issue of the Times Literary Supplement. Kotkin is a tour de force when it comes to all things Russia, and when I heard about the review, I scoured the internet looking for an accessible version, but to no avail. Not having a subscription to TLS, I had to patiently wait until the University of Pittsburgh library received its copy. It finally hit the periodical shelves a week or so ago, and I eagerly made a photocopy. You can read of scan of the review here.
The five books under Kotkin’s analytical gaze are:
Gleb Pavlovsky, Genialnaya vlast! Slovar abstraktsii kremlya, Evropa, 2011
Masha Gessen, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, Riverhead, 2012
Augus Roxburgh, The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia, Tauris, 2012
Sean P. Roberts, Putin’s United Russia Party, Routledge, 2011
Allen C. Lynch, Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft, Potomac, 2011
Here are some of my favorite passages:
This one-man capture of the State has stood out as utterly singular in writings on Russia. Throw in Putin’s KGB background and all the lingering emotions and politics of the Cold War, and Russia’s ostensible singularity becomes magnified. But the world knows myriad examples of personal rule, caudillos, juntas, in countries small and large. Did not Indonesia’s Suharto appoint senior military officers, equivalent to Putin’s KGB types, to civilian posts, whence they enriched themselves in the name of sovereignty and state security? Is not today’s Georgia under Mikheil Saakashviii essentially a one-man regime under which a tiny clique of associates holds sway over the executive, parliament and main national television channels, with a constitution altered by fiat and an opposition chased from the streets with truncheons? We would do well to understand that such regimes are often feeble, even before they reveal themselves to be so, and yet they are not so easily dislodged. They wield numerous instruments—tax police, courts, buy-offs—that are useful only for certain tasks, like holding on to power. Stalin excepted, the more leaders in Russia have pushed for a “strong state”, the more they end up producing weak personal rule and institutional mush. In the end, whether the current Russian regime falls or survives, the colossal modernization challenge will persist.
Pavlovsky draws a telling contrast with Karl Rove’s efforts under George W. Bush to create a permanent Republican Party majority, which failed. The “Putin majority”, he explains, encompasses people on the state budget (such as pensioners), the working class, state functionaries and the security services, and women. In other words, those who bore the burdens of the Yeltsin “reforms”, the losers of the 1990s, became the winners of the 2000s. The majority holds, provided the state budget can continue to find the largesse for its outlays, and the people continue to stay out of politics. But now? If the election of 2000 institutionalized the Putin majority, Pavlovsky concludes, the election of 2012 will institutionalize the “permanent insulted minority”.
When the voluble Sobchak inconveniently recalled Purin’s role differently from the emerging official line, he was, Gessen implies, murdered by poisoning. She piles up the suspicious corpses, recounting the death by polonium radiation of Alexander Litvinenko in London and the murders of the investigative journalists Yuri Shchekochikhin and Anna Politkovskaya, among others. Gessen’s friends fear she may be next. She is right that the regime shrinks from no act or method, but proving matters is not simple. In her telling, the deadly terrorist siege of a Moscow theatre turns out to have been a convoluted set-up; and the fatal storming of a school held hostage in Beslan two years later was unnecessary (Putin could have acceded to the terrorists’ demands). Tarring Putin, rather than just his associates, with corruption, she recounts the story of his supposed $1 billion dacha complex on the Black Sea, invoking the notion of pleonexia (an “insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others”). Conversely, she tells us that Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed tycoon, “invested money and energy in constructing a new political system”. She offers a similarly one-sided account of the destruction of Vladimir Gusinsky’s empire (”The day the media died”), where she used to work. Repeatedly, she scolds the New York Times for its allegedly naive response to these events. Above all, she frog-marches Putin’s facilitators before her interviewer’s court. Berezovsky, we hear, rues the day he ever helped him. Andrei IIlarionov, who worked as Putin’s top economic adviser, rues the day. William Browder, who applauded Khodorkovsky’s arrest before his own investment fund was evacuated under duress, rues the day. Gessen derides her peers for being taken in by Medvedev’s talk of modernization (“The intelligentsia ate it up”), then lets on that her recent boss, the ultra-rich Mikhail Prokhorov, a permitted presidential candidate, “just might topple the system”.
And finally, Kotkin concludes:
After twelve years at the pinnacle of power, with twelve more in prospect, Putin remains at a loss as to how to move Russia to the next level, towards a version of the modernity he rightly says the country needs. As for the man-boy Medvedev, even now he continues his enervating verbiage. “The old model, which faithfully and truly served our state in recent years, and did not serve it badly, and which we all defended – it has exhausted itself’, he remarked on December 17. Why have these endless calls for modernization not been answered? Masha Gessen has the simplest response: it was mostly a ruse. Angus Roxburgh’s explanation comes via a Russian businessman, who tells him that corruption “is the entire system – the political system, the business establishment, the police, the judiciary, the government, from top to bottom, all intertwined and inseparable”. Allen Lynch, too, singles out structural impediments, as well as accumulated Soviet rot and geopolitical constraints, some self-imposed. Russia wants to deal with the West and China from a position of equality, but it cannot; Russia wants to be a global power centre in its own right, the hub of a Eurasian Union, but it is not. Pavlovsky suggests another piece of the answer, on top of the exigencies of the global economy: Putin has exposed himself as ever more cocky and vindictive, and bereft of the political agility of his first term, refusing all concessions and unable to revive a sense of a future. Russia deserves better, but is in line for more of the same.Post Views: 991